Re: The X-Files
Well doesn't Disney own it now? Wouldn't it be up to them if they want to bring it back or not?
Well doesn't Disney own it now? Wouldn't it be up to them if they want to bring it back or not?
Well doesn't Disney own it now? Wouldn't it be up to them if they want to bring it back or not?
Disney bought the movie studio but FOX Network I believe is still separate, as is News Corp.
They didn't buy the network, but they did buy a lot of the properties (including the Simpsons, Family Guy, etc). Fairly certain X-Files would've been in that box.
Ooh. Maybe they can boot Chris Carter like George Lucas!
The X-Files is a great frame. If I were in charge, I would bring in a showrunner to at least co-run the show with Carter. An equal voice who could not be overruled. If Carter didn't like that, he could leave. Because he can't do the job.
I would keep the known writers, but I would also fill out the writers room (which I'd actually have) with new writers. A lot of writers today grew up with The X-Files and know the tone of the show and what works. Let them work on it. I'd get rid of the Mulder and Scully clone agents that are on the new show, but bring in some new agents who could carry the show. Make Mulder a mentor or a source that they go to from time to time, but not the star of the show. We can't keep one foot in and one foot out like that. Maybe Skinner can stay.
New mythology too.
I hadn't thought about the Disney side, but I wonder if that's a brand they even want to cultivate. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't shelve a lot of the "FOX" stuff and try and build a softer image for the network. There's a ton of wiggle room between being not as edgy as FOX used to be and being edgier than ABC.
I just have a feeling that, as soon as the purchase is done, Disney is gonna toss a lot of older/flailing properties in the trash. This is a potential one, especially if viewership isn't strong and costs are.
Hard to say. The X-Files is a known name that could make money. It also isn't super edgy or offensive (except for some bad writing), so I could see it being reworked. I could see some less marketable titles being tossed and forgotten though.
I hate this whole deal.
They made less mythology this year than MOW. In fact, I think it's 8 MOW, two mythology. That's what people wanted. I think on balance, fans probably will like this season. The narrative is a bit different now because a lot of hardcore fans hated the premiere. But as this season wears on hopefully people will like what it delivers, and want to see if continue. Scully was a special character, so it might not be as great, but I think they can do fine MOW without her, too.
I really enjoyed "This," but it wasn't an episode of THE X-FILES as generally defined. Which is to say -- the average episode of THE X-FILES has Mulder and Scully being passive investigators in a world beyond human understanding or control. "This" shows Mulder and Scully as action heroes pursuing the conspiracy to stop it rather than investigating to uncover it and they're much more combat-proficient than ever. It's at odds with the majority of other episodes.
One in-universe possibility: the onscreen events of "This" could be a simulation.
The simulated Langley tells Mulder and Scully that he exists in a world of perfection in which all his wants and desires are met, but the artificiality has become maddening for him while Erica Price declares that few if any of the digital personalities ever discover their artificial existence.
When Mulder and Scully are in the bar and narrowing down their investigation, the lighting around them darkens and dims to show them alone in shadow; neither of them react or seem to notice and it creates the sense that the world around them is a computer generated construct that's experiencing a service interruption.
There are also a number of errors throughout the episode that are clearly deliberate: Mulder refers to the National Security Agency as the NSI. Byers' headstone has a mis-spelled middle name, an error that writer/director Glen Morgan (the co-creator of the Lone Gunmen) would not make.
There is no explanation for how Langly created a cemetery based puzzle for a grave he didn't know he'd be buried in. At one point, Mulder is pretending to be handcuffed but raises his unbound hands in full view of a guard; it goes unnoticed.
The existence of a backup, unremarked upon until the final scene, is inexplicably never raised before then.
Then there's Mulder and Scully's close relationship in "This." In "My Struggle II," Mulder didn't bother to call Scully or answer her when heading off to confront the Smoking Man. Previous episodes had shown him saddened by their breakup and withholding his feelings about William from her.
But "This" shows Mulder and Scully falling asleep on the sofa together and Scully refers to Mulder's house as "our home." And then there's Mulder and Scully as seemingly invincible action stars.
Noticeably -- the conceit that the digital personalities only go online when the real person has died doesn't make sense. There is no reason why the simulation and the real-world person could not co-exist.
However, it's possible that the actual meaning is: the simulation only permits one instance of the digital personality at any given time to avoid conflicts and redundant processes, and the backups of the personalities are only activated if the current iteration is erased or otherwise ceases to function. Furthermore, the simulations may exist in sandboxed situations in multiple planes of digital reality.
Is any of "This" actually happening? Or is it a digital dreamworld in which the simulated Mulder and Scully were given an existence in which their fondest desire -- a romantic relationship with endless cases to investigate together and forever -- was granted with reality bending at the seams in order to give them what they want? The fact that William is missing and the Lone Gunmen are still dead in their perfect world indicates that their greatest wish is to be with each other without anyone else in the way -- which is selfish but human.
Moving on. "This" is an episode where Mulder and Scully are targeted by a technological phenomenon and act as action heroes in a sci-fi adventure as they go on the run from the authorities, storm the citadel of the conspiracy using subterfuge, weapons, deception and total confidence in their ability to topple any physical threat. It's strange because in the first nine seasons and two films, Mulder and Scully were hardly ever in combat situations and when they were, their attitude was generally to flee in terror from bees and choppers and tanks and gunmen.
They were regularly overpowered, beaten up, shot, pummelled, knocked out and tied up. "This" has Mulder and Scully sliding across floors, punching out assassins, shooting down enemies and Mulder, whose defining attribute in Seasons 1 - 7 was to regularly drop his gun, is suddenly a capable marksman whose uncharacteristic profiency in "My Struggle II" with defeating a thug has become the new normal.
Admittedly, there is a huge time gap between Seasons 9 and I WANT TO BELIEVE during which Mulder and Scully were fugitives and conceivably spent a lot of time retraining themselves for their lives on the run. But the structure of "This" is most unlike THE X-FILES: Mulder and Scully are the focus and the protagonists, and their abilities are well above what's been previously established.
And yet, this is actually very much in tune with how THE X-FILES worked in Seasons 1 - 9. It was a different era of TV where viewers were unlikely and unable to watch every single episode. Chris Carter, as a showrunner, rarely rewrote scripts the way modern lead producers do. Instead, his attitude was to invite each individual writer to produce their scripts from writing to airing and he encouraged each individual writer to present their unique, personal vision of THE X-FILES.
For example, Chris Carter generally writes Mulder as a stalwart hero with a meaningful purpose and mission, but Darin Morgan ("Were Monster") writes Mulder as dysfunctional and fundamentally hopeless in his goals. Chris Carter wrote aliens as unknowable, inhuman monsters of horror and madness; James Wong wrote aliens as figures of unimaginable wonder and beauty.
Vince Gilligan wrote monsters as troubled representations of the dark side of humanity which could be confronted and defeated; Chris Carter wrote monsters as beyond human understanding or control. And Chris Carter writes Mulder and Scully as passive investigators, but Glen Morgan writes them as involved action heroes. So, "This" being nothing like the other episodes of THE X-FILES is actually being quite true to THE X-FILES.
This conflicting, contradictory approach is also within Chris Carter's own episodes: he writes monster of the week episodes that are clearly set in a universe of supernatural, magical, unknowable forces, but his alien episodes are written in a universe of scientific and technological concepts in which voodoo and ghosts don't fit. His Season 1 - 9 myth-arc episodes are about aliens as a terrifying force outside humanity infiltrating our civilization and infecting it with savagery and monstrosity; his Season 10 - 11 myth-arc episodes are about humans who have co-opted the wonder and beauty of benign aliens to take advantage of humanity's weaknesses and failings. Alien colonization and the Spartan Virus are two different conspiracies; Carter treats them as the same conspiracy (aside from two lines in "My Struggle III" where the conspirator says that the aliens are not going to colonize Earth as the planet's no longer worth their while).
This is why continuity both for the myth-arc and for the characters has always been a pointless waste of time in this show. THE X-FILES was written in the 90s where episodes were written as self-directing, standalone products without much concern for what aired last week or what would air next week. This was true of both the writers and the majority of the audience and Carter has maintained this approach for Seasons 10 - 11.
Looking at "This" independently as it was meant to be seen: it's clearly about establishing Mulder and Scully as a couple with the plot being at best an afterthought, a framework to put Mulder and Scully together in every scene with the entire episode never showing them apart at all. They are a pair who are so comfortable with each other that they fall asleep on the sofa watching television, reviewing casefiles and eating junk food. They are so familiar that even as fugitives pursued by assassins, they are cheerily at ease with each other in the woods or in parking lots or in a cafe or in a restaurant or on a bus. They are so acclimated that Scully refers to Mulder's house as "home." They are so warm with each other that they can both silently decide not to bother cleaning up the house and will silently let rubbish fall to the floor and head back to the sofa where they were when the episode began.
These are not coworkers or colleagues; THE X-FILES (this week) is a love story about two people who are uniquely and intimately suited to each other to the point where their marital status and professional standing are completely irrelevant because they are a team, they are a couple, they are together and they are completely infatuated with each other and their lives. God knows what they'll be like next week, but this is what they're like in "This." It's how Glen Morgan sees them. It may not be how the other writers see them.
If you look at it from a continuity minded standpoint -- which is not how THE X-FILES was designed -- you may see an arc. In Seasons 1 - 6, Mulder and Scully went from colleagues who trusted each other to best friends and comrades to the point where even when they'd been reassigned and the X-Files office was closed or kept from them, they would investigate cases in their spare time together to the point where "Dreamland" essentially has them as a sexless couple going to Area 51 and "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas" show them spending their holidays staking out a haunted house as civilians instead of FBI agents. In Season 7, they kissed on New Year's Eve but it went no further and the Smoking Man remarked to Scully: "You'd die for Mulder, but you won't allow yourself to love him." The episode "all things" revealed that Scully had an affair with her professor in her college years that left her feeling that love was somehow a betrayal of indepedence but finally making her peace with that; the teaser and tag scene suggested that Mulder and Scully had finally consummated their relationship.
"Hollywood AD" and "Je Souhaite" showed Mulder and Scully distinctly romantic with each other, "Requiem" had Scully overjoyed to discover she was pregnant, the Season 8 finale had Scully holding her baby and Mulder kissing her and "The Truth" has them running away together. However, I WANT TO BELIEVE shows Mulder and Scully in conflict with the chemistry of a long-divorced couple reluctantly adjusted to how they'll never be rid of each other. "My Struggle I" showed them separated with Scully calling a relationship with Mulder "quite impossible" and Mulder sadly but gently saying that he and Scully had gone their separate ways "for better or for worse" while Scully said to Mulder, "I'm always happy to see you," establishing them as amicably broken up and maintaining constant contact.
However, their relationship starts to get closer. "Home Again" has Scully confiding in Mulder that she longs desperately to see William; "Founders Mutation" has Mulder claiming he has had to forget William but later revealing that he hasn't at all. "Babylon" has Scully getting over the death of her mother and then this reinvigorated Scully visits Mulder at his house and they're holding hands and walking joyfully at the end. They have only one scene together in "My Struggle II" and they have brief interaction in "My Struggle III," but "This" would suggest that after "Babylon," Mulder and Scully have become a couple again. Scully called Mulder's house "our home."
Or the next episode will resume having them living in separate dwellings and only seeing each other at the office and, retroactively, "This" was a late night work session that became movies and snacking and it was an anomaly, not a regularity. Who knows what the next episode will be? You never know what THE X-FILES is from week to week -- that's the show. It could just as easily be argued that the romantic episodes of Season 7 were simply those writers' personal visions of the Mulder/Scully relationship which exist alongside episodes in which they're platonically friendly or professionally amicable. It's almost like each episode of THE X-FILES is set in a different parallel universe.
For better or for worse, THE X-FILES is not really a series as we understand it today; it's an anthology show that features the same actors playing characters with the same names and jobs but with relationships and settings that are radically different from episode to episode and writer to writer with little to no concern for ongoing development or consistency and continuity.
"This" may be the first episode to actually silo its own episode from the rest of the series by proposing that the onscreen are all a simulation -- and it may even explain why Mulder and Scully are so different from week to week, why the conspiracy was in Seasons 1- 9 about an invasion but in Season 10 became population control without alien involvement, why THE X-FILES goes back and forth from sci-fi to supernatural -- these are all different versions of the simulation.
Wow, that actually makes sense in some weird way.
I was watching the episode under the assumption that Mulder and Scully were in a simulation, but the episode never went there. In the end, it seemed like an absurd waste of time, where Scully could infiltrate a highly secured government facility by winking at a stupid guy.
Your way works better. Especially because it allows for a universe where Mulder and Scully were never a couple. That never should have happened.
This week actually... Didn't suck. I'm surprised.
If they cut out the relationship crap that always kills the Mulder/Scully dynamic, this would have felt like a classic X-Files episode.
Also, the Trump jabs. It's just petty. And at this point in the series, the FBI has been proven to be horribly corrupt and possibly genocidal, so shutting them down would probably not be the worst idea.
In my continuing "casual X-Files fan" mode of watching this show, I was confused - I thought Mulder and Scully were actively a couple. Weren't they living together and snuggling on the couch last episode?
(I just read irreactions' "This" review so maybe that was a simulation or an individual's vision of Mulder and Scully?)
In my continuing "casual X-Files fan" mode of watching this show, I was confused - I thought Mulder and Scully were actively a couple. Weren't they living together and snuggling on the couch last episode? (I just read irreactions' "This" review so maybe that was a simulation or an individual's vision of Mulder and Scully?)
Glen Morgan sees them as a couple. Chris Carter sees them as colleagues and friends, but he doesn't see them as husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend because he feels that is too conventional for them. Darin Morgan sees them as amicably broken up but still good friends. James Wong sees them as wisecracking coworkers.
And THE X-FILES isn't really about continuity, so each writer writes their own individual version of Mulder and Scully and Carter doesn't force them to conform, instead encouraging each episode to represent the author's vision even when it contradicts what was onscreen last week and what will air next week.
Yeah, after reading your "This" post, I can buy that logic. So my casual watching of the show works fine because it isn't important to understand what came before
There are times when THE X-FILES' anthology approach is quite maddening and infuriating -- specifically with the myth-arc episodes trying to tell an epic story with numerous pieces that don't fit together and lacking much effort to at least make them feel like they're part of the same show. I have very mixed feelings about the non-existent script editing except to say it often drives a lot of people crazy and makes them stop watching the show, and that it's very unusual in a TV landscape of serialization.
It is admirable, however, that Chris Carter has one view of Mulder and Scully -- but declines to insist that his writers follow it, instead telling them to pursue their vision and passions on his show. He could rewrite them. He could mandate that they revise their romcoms and amiable exes attitude and have them replace it with Carter's preference for platonic intimacy. But he doesn't. And he won't. He wants his writers to write their stories, not Chris Carter's stories.
I have to disagree about this approach being admirable. Each writer approaches the characters differently, and that usually resulted in characters who were layered and complicated. It added to the show. However, Carter's inability to run the show has constantly damaged the series. Someone needs to figure out what's going on and what path they're going to take when it comes to major developments. That is the job of the showrunner. Carter's job is to steer the writers in the right direction. He is failing at that.
I kinda wish they would do an X-Files multiverse episode, where all of these different versions of Mulder and Scully are in the same room together. It'd be hilarious to see platonic Scully's reaction to relationship Scully's romance with Mulder. That'd be a fun episode. However, all of these are supposed to be the same person as far as the show is concerned, so it makes no sense!
Star Trek The Next Generation wasn't heavily serialized and even they could keep track of when Troi and Worf were dating.
The problem here is that Mulder and Scully shouldn't be a couple. It kills their dynamic. It is an awkward beat for characters who are partners at the FBI. They're best when they're pushing against each other (verbally) and that allows them to be sarcastic and super close in a way that a romantic involvement doesn't. Now they're trying to have it all, and it doesn't work. Maybe it'd play better if they weren't agents anymore, and they were just partners in some supernatural PI office or something, but that's not what this show is. Mulder and Scully should be like Ken and Barbie (junkless) around each other. It's irritating that they've been forced together, probably because of some vocal shippers, and Carter's inability to make a decision and hold people to it.
The relationship scenes this week were like brick walls that the story kept crashing into.
This in no way addresses Informant's criticisms except to say: because Carter encouraged each writer to do their own version of the show, produce their scripts and direct their episodes, Vince Gilligan created Breaking Bad, Howard Gordon helped create Homeland, David Greenwalt led Angel, Tim Minear produced Wonderfalls, Darin Morgan gave Fringe its weirdness -- and Carter nourished and encouraged all these writers and their voices and talents and gave them experience to produce and sell other shows -- although none ever ran their writing rooms the way Carter (doesn't) run his. Nearly every X-FILES writer has gone onto huge success and acclaim.
Yeah, but Carter's job wasn't to mentor the executive producers of tomorrow. His job was to run The X-Files, and because he ran it like some sort of writing hippie commune where everyone just did their own thing, Carter failed at his primary job.
There is a balance to be struck between allowing different writers to have their own style, and keeping the show consistent. I hate to give Joss Whedon praise, but Buffy was a good example of this. There's no confusing a Marti Noxon episode for a Jane Espenson episode, but the show didn't suffer because of it... Until Marti took over running the show.
I think the decision to give each writer has his own personal X-FILES universe was a good approach in the 90s. The casual viewer, which was most of the viewers, wouldn't be particularly aware of the inconsistencies because the majority of the audience wouldn't have seen all the episodes.
For viewers with at best Slider_Quinn21 level memories of the show, aliens being malevolent monsters in Carter episodes but innocent and benign in a Morgan/Wong episode could be part of the mystery. Scully having a dog in Darin Morgan episodes but making no reference to her pet in any other episodes would go unnoticed. Scully could lose a child in one episode and be back to normal next week.
This was TV before DVD sets and viewing on demand; only a small percentage of the viewers were going to be rewatching homemade or official VHS cassettes or marathoning reruns in syndication. Carter's hands-off style has fallen out of vogue in a modern era where serialization is now possible and effective thanks to streaming and each episode is part of a greater whole.
Carter's approach has not translated well to the modern era, but I can appreciate his wish to keep the anthology approach for the revival.
Chris Carter and Informant are actually in total agreement on Mulder and Scully's romance. Carter didn't want to have one, never has and still doesn't. It annoys him greatly. When first casting Dana Scully, FOX urged him to cast Pamela Anderson. This drove Carter crazy and he fought hard to have a real actress who could play a scientist, a doctor and an FBI agent.
Part of his distaste for hiring an lead actress simply to objectify her is present in the pilot where Scully, thinking she's found alien implant marks, runs into Mulder's hotel room and strips for him to examine her. Carter's script and Duchovny's performance are very determinedly sexless as Mulder recognizes the marks as mosquito bites, and the moment leads to Mulder sharing his traumatic childhood with Scully.
It's pretty clear from the Pilot that Carter wanted to explore Mulder and Scully as platonic friends and partners with a depth of connection well beyond just boyfriend/girlfriend. He wanted to focus on the conflict between the believer and the skeptic and romance was not his area of interest. Also, THE X-FILES wasn't really about relationships anyway; it was about scary stories, monsters of the week and two characters who would be static and unchanging, more icons than people.
However, something strange happened: there was a peculiar romantic chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson that Carter did not want, did not plan for and couldn't understand. Carter was mystified. Duchovny and Anderson did not get along well at all; Duchovny was a studied, serious, thoughtful, nerdy, restrained thespian. Anderson was a hyperactive punk rocker. They chafed against each other. Neither enjoyed Vancouver, both expected THE X-FILES to be cancelled inside six weeks, both were astonished by the success and the renewal and the increasing horror that they were totally mismatched to each other and would never be rid of each other. Carter wanted to put them in couples' counselling after Season 1 and it baffled him that onscreen, Mulder and Scully had a chemistry that the audience viewed as romantic.
He refused to acknowledge it for a long time and wrote against it. However, the other writers resisted him and Carter, being laid back with his writers, allowed them to write scripts which played up the romance. Most notable was Darin Morgan's "War of the Coprophages" in which Scully refuses to leave her apartment despite Mulder's tales of killer cockroaches -- until she hears that Mulder has met a lady scientist who finds his theories intriguing, then suddenly Scully's hauling ass to catch up with him.
Then came the movie where Carter, accepting that the audience wanted a romance, had a near-kiss between Mulder and Scully. And with the move to Los Angeles and Season 6, Carter found himself struggling to maintain THE X-FILES' originality when five years of monsters of the week had exhausted all the obvious stories.
The writing staff suggested they liven up the show by having a run of romantic comedy episodes. Duchovny and Anderson also pushed for this. Carter conceded that they needed the fresh material that this would bring, but mandated they could only bait the fans with teases and never allow the romance to actually come to fruition.
So we had Mulder kissing a Scully doppelganger in "Triangle" and telling the real Scully he loved her only to be dismissed, "Rain King" where Scully expresses her love for Mulder unknowingly, "Arcadia" where the go undercover as a married couple.
But then came Season 7 where Gillian Anderson effectively overruled him and wrote and directed "all things" where Mulder and Scully finally become a couple. Carter insisted on maintaining deniability where the romance is largely offscreen and indicated only through Mulder and Scully being in really good moods, but then decided to use Scully getting pregnant as a season-ending cliffhanger. Season 8 ended with Mulder and Scully kissing and holding their baby, a final scene that sadly wasn't final.The showrunner had effectively been defeated on this front by his writers, the fans and also the actress.
The romance wasn't something Carter wanted, but as it became a selling point and the series' longevity extended well beyond the five seasons Carter had expected, he gave in and he wasn't happy about it.
The Season 9 finale, "The Truth," has Scully losing all credibility in court as a witness to the alien conspiracy because her romance with Mulder has undermined her as a scientist. This was Carter's grim observation that Mulder and Scully as a couple instantly reduced Scully to Mulder's love interest. In "My Struggle I," he broke them up immediately, but due to the actors' insistence, he was forced to script them as reconnecting again by "Babylon."
It exasperates him, but Carter has grudgingly accepted that the characters he created have shifted due to the actors playing them and what ended up onscreen wasn't what he'd conceived or scripted in the beginning.
And this is where I think a lot of TV writers have problems. Whenever you put two characters in a room together, there will be shippers. Mulder/Scully shippers, Dean/Castiel shippers, Sam/Dean shippers, Buffy/Giles shippers, Oliver/Felicity shippers... pretty much any time there are two (or more!) characters interacting with each other, a percentage of the audience will want them to start jumping each other. And a lot of the time, those fans are very, very vocal. With Supernatural, a lot of the fans ship themselves with the characters and screech every time a woman appears on screen with the guys.
Sometimes, the characters naturally do move toward a relationship (Fringe, Chuck, Psych), but other times, they are better left separate. Sometimes knowing when to deny the audience what they want is as vital as knowing when to give them what they want. Sometimes the plot the story needs isn't the same thing as what the audience wants. In fact, sometimes it's best to recognize what the audience wants, and write in the opposite direction entirely.
Dear lord, I'm about to give Whedon credit again... but the truth is that I did learn a lot about writing from him, before he totally sold out...
On Buffy, there was a certain death that I won't spoil for anyone who hasn't watched the show yet. It happened in season 2, and it was shocking. In playing the reaction to that death, Anthony Stewart Head's instinct was to cry, but Joss told him not to. He said that the second Giles releases that emotion, the audience will feel the release of theirs. By denying the expectation and denying the strong instinct in that moment, the story becomes much more powerful. Not to the characters, but to the audience. This is a lesson that I've carried with me for many years now.
It comes down to the instinct of the writer. To know the characters and know the story, and to hold true to it. The X-Files was Chris Carter's responsibility, not his writers and not the audience. He owed it to the story and to the characters to keep that story on course and to stay true to the characters. Many people probably just wanted Mulder and Scully to end up together because that's what's supposed to happen with any male/female interaction, and that's what the audience has been programmed to expect from the story. This situation was one where working against those expectations would have made the story so much stronger. Working against the expectations would have made the Mulder/Scully bond much more unique, much stronger, and much more interesting. Now they are exes with benefits, who are partners at the FBI (is that even allowed?). Instead of being special and compelling, their relationship devolved into a cliche that checked every box that we've come to expect.
Carter knew what the right choice was. Good for him. However, he allowed himself to be overruled by people who worked for him and whose job it was to fulfill his vision. He let the animals run the zoo. Even when he makes the right decision, he proves that he shouldn't be running the show by allowing his decision to be overruled.
There's no reason why Mulder and Scully needed to be romantic with each other in order to have a baby together. It sounds weird, but welcome to the 20th century! We have IVF now!
I don't really have an opinion on the Mulder and Scully romance except to say: I see lots of storytelling potential with them as lovers and I see just as much with them as platonic partners.
I don't mind the Mulder/Scully romance. It's not the dealbreaker for me that it is for fans (or for Chris Carter). I think Informant's opinion that Mulder and Scully had no business getting romantic, full-stop, is a very strange opinion for a writer. Writers, by their nature, should see the possibilities in any avenue; whether or not they care to explore them is a different question.
Chris Carter is not really a writer who thinks in terms of characterization. Instead, characters are mouthpieces for a certain point of view. Mulder was the believer. Scully was the skeptic. That was the end of it as far as he was concerned. He felt that it was up to the actors to make these icons feel like people; he stuck to writing the believer and the skeptic. And that was fine and well and good. The show certainly could have carried on for 11 seasons and two films with Mulder and Scully as professional colleagues who, due to their hangups and traumas and repressions and demons, would never be a couple.
Seasons 1 - 5 present a near infinite number of reasons as to why Mulder and Scully shouldn't be a couple. They are complete loners for the most part with no life outside their work. Scully's daddy issues have made it difficult for her to bond with others; the death of her sister traumatized her from forming new relationships with others. Mulder is tormented by his sister's disappearance, his parents' complicity and his penchant for pornography made it quite clear: despite having sexual desires, he simply doesn't allow himself anything except for the X-Files.
"War of the Copraphages" have Mulder bringing a town to disaster with his paranoia; "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" present Mulder and Scully as detached from human experience; "Never Again" indicates that Mulder and Scully's relationship is profoundly toxic and dysfunctional -- they are horrible for each other because Mulder is a selfish, myopic misfit and Scully is a self-isolating workaholic.
But FIGHT THE FUTURE had Mulder and Scully almost kiss, interrupted only by a bee. Once that happened, there was no going back. And it could have been fine except due to Carter's discomfort with romance (and characterization in general), the romantic arc was badly mishandled despite being strangely well-written. Season 6 has Mulder and Scully kicked off the X-Files Division. They are no longer partners. They are no longer assigned X-Files cases. For 12 episodes, almost half of Season 6, Mulder and Scully were cut off from the central concept of the series.
It had almost no effect on the show's storytelling engine whatsoever. "Drive" has Mulder and Scully blundering into an X-File, "Triangle" shows that Mulder will pursue them outside of work hours. However, the removal of the X-Files from THE X-FILES led to a focus on Mulder and Scully as the show rather than their work.
In "Triangle," when Mulder fears he might die, he kisses a Scully lookalike and later tells the real Scully that he loves her (to which she replies, "Oh, brother," thinking it's the pain medication talking). "Dreamland I - II" have Mulder and Scully travelling to Area 51 with the two arguing along the way, Scully wondering why they are chasing aliens when it's not their job, when these are their off-hours, when she and Mulder could be living normal lives. "This is a normal life," Mulder says dismissively.
The "Dreamland" two-parter, simply from the teaser, makes it clear that even when Mulder and Scully aren't working on the X-Files, they will spend their spare time together. Following paranormal events. Seeking strangeness to explore. The significance of the teaser is easily missed, but given the context of the episodes leading up to it, it's impossible to see Mulder and Scully as anything but a couple (romantic or not) who like to get together to look into weird events in the peculiar universe that they inhabit.
At this point, with Mulder trying to kiss Scully and Scully being receptive in FIGHT THE FUTURE followed by Mulder telling Scully he loves her in "Triangle" and "Dreamland" establishing that they don't need the X-Files to be partners, the stage was set for Mulder and Scully to truly become a couple. "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas" show that Scully, despite her stated complaints, would actually be happy to stake out a haunted house with Mulder on Christmas Eve rather than spend it with her family.
And then we go to "The Rain King" where Scully tells a woman whose best friend has fallen for her that sometimes, we get close to someone as a friend but then one day, we may come to find that someone we saw as a colleague and associate has become the only life partner we could ever dream of. Later, on the dance floor, we see Mulder and Scully standing separately but dancing in perfect sync to the music, neither one noticing that the other is in step.
If Mulder and Scully were being written as characters permitted to drive their own story (as Informant has always advised), this is where the romance would have started. But it didn't; Mulder and Scully never notice and then Diana Fowley, Mulder's ex(-wife?) returned to the show to make Scully jealous and put her at odds with Mulder.
It didn't make any sense. David Duchovny was deeply frustrated by Season 6 teasing a Mulder and Scully romance but not delivering. He said that it was clear to him: the writers were holding off on a romance until the series finale and without any finale in sight, they wouldn't complete the arc. To him, this made the show creatively corrupt and he wanted out. Season 7 attempted to have the romance in a very non-committal fashion where Mulder and Scully may or may not be an offscreen couple, allowing Chris Carter to ignore it (although he was seized by the idea of Scully ending the season pregnant).
The truth is that if Carter wanted Mulder and Scully kept separate, it would have been very appropriate to have them couple up in "Rain King" only to discover that their respective neuroses, idiosyncrasies and peculiarities (as established in Seasons 1 - 5) would make it impossible for them to work together and be a couple. They could have played out the romance and moved on to where Mulder and Scully ended up anyway by Season 10: the amicable exes. Or they could have kept them a couple and gone the Season 7 route a little earlier with a focus on their professional lives but an episode here or there that dealt with their off-duty lives.
One of the best and worst episodes of Season 6 is "Arcadia" where Mulder and Scully go undercover as husband and wife. It's very cute. But it's surprisingly simplistic where Mulder and Scully grumble about chores and attention when Season 1 - 5 had introduced plenty of more individual and specific reasons for why they would chafe: Mulder is a slob with no room in his life for intimacy; Scully is a neatfreak and has no tolerance for an overgrown college student. Mulder has no interest in socializing with the neighbours; Scully wants to contribute to the community. And so forth.
But what we got from the series as a whole wasn't Mulder and Scully getting together because it made sense at that point or staying apart for good and valid reasons. They were kept apart from Season 6 to the last few episodes of Season 7 because the showrunner rejected the proposal; they finally got together in "all things" because the actress rejected his rejection.
To me, "Plus One" represented the best of Carter's suspense and horror writing and the worst of his character-oriented writing. The horror story is pretty good, but the conversations between Mulder and Scully are incomprehensible.
Why is Scully lying in Mulder's arms worrying that Mulder might find a younger woman to bear his children? Is she unaware that they're in bed together? Has she met this dysfunctional mess of a man with no interest in sex outside Scully who satiates any desires with porn? Why is Mulder flirting with Scully like they haven't had a child and spent a good portion of 2000 and then 2002 to 2008 living together in a common-law marriage? Why is Scully acting like sex with Mulder is a desire she wouldn't ever voice when they've been spending their off-hours going on vacations to Nevada since 1998?
I don't think Chris Carter knows who these people are outside one being the believer and the other being the skeptic.
I'm not opposed to the idea of romantic pairings in general, but I think that they sometimes happen less because the characters demand it, and more because the audience (and writers) expect it. It's not just true with Mulder and Scully, it's also true with Oliver and Felicity, and I'm sure it's true with many more characters on screen that I'm too lazy to think of right now.
Mulder and Scully are, in a lot of ways, like Sam and Dean Winchester. They didn't choose to be together, but once they are together, they have a strong bond and partnership. Some in the fan community view this as sexual (do not Google the word Wincest, I warn you), but the truth is that it's not. There's a need for a lot of people to sexualize relationships where people have chemistry, but sometime you have to recognize where that chemistry comes from.
Mulder and Scully were never a couple where you expected them to fall into some frenzied makeout session at any moment. Their dynamic was based on the fact that they push off of each other, not the fact that they're drawn toward each other. It's a strong partnership, but not romance. Mulder and Scully should be the partners with absolutely zero chance of being sexually involved, who can grab a beer and complain about their actual spouses (if they had them). They should be a safe zone for each other, and for the audience, in an otherwise incredibly dangerous world that they live in. Being romantically linked creates drama between them that shouldn't exist. And rather than have a pretty unique relationship that we don't often see on TV, they become like every other man and woman who appear on screen together on every show.
What has their romantic pairing added to the show? The best part of "Plus One" was the push and pull that reminded me of the earlier X-Files episodes. He'd make some sexual innuendo that was totally safe because there was zero chance of it happening, and she'd rebut with some sharp comeback.
The romantic pairing has given us an awkward relationship between the characters, because they can't be the partners that they once were, but they also kinda need to be the partners that they once were, because it's the premise of the show. There's always this random, useless element sitting between them in every scene now.
And what else has the pairing given us? William? Even though the story could have been done in other ways, it just went nowhere. He's some vaguely powerful person who has had not much of an impact on the show at all.
People think that having two characters fall in love will cement their bond and make the whole thing that much stronger, but that's not always the case. It's important to recognize when two characters shouldn't go there, and I think the X-Files is one of those cases. Rather than bring the characters together, the sexualization of that relationship has created division between them, and an awkwardness. The safe zone (friend zone?) is gone, and where do they go from here?
I agree that the execution of the romance was poorly handled. If they were going to go there, they should have just gone there. However, I don't think that putting them together was ever going to turn out well for the series. A married couple with children, who are partners in some oddball FBI division, sharing a one-desk office in the basement, and hunting monsters? It sounds like a premise that might work if we're talking about a small town sheriff's department, or a PI firm, but it just looks silly when it's the FBI.
Yeah, I'm a writer, and I'm supposed to be able to envision all of the potential routes that a story could take. However, there is usually a path of least resistance, where the story naturally wants to go. If you ignore that and force it to go in another direction, the story feels wrong. I think that's what happened here. The story wasn't properly executed because there was no proper execution.
To me, watching Mulder and Scully kiss is like watching Sam and Dean kiss, or Buffy and Giles. It doesn't make me all warm inside, it makes me a little grossed out. They have a huge amount of chemistry and a strong relationship... but she's more like the sister that he never had a chance to have than she is the woman that he wants to make wild, passionate love to.
"The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" was a fun episode. It was an okay episode, which could have easily been a solidly good episode, but suffered again from some writer laziness, and a few spots of actor weakness.
First, I want to say that I'm not sure what the hell happened in the episode, or where reality lies. But that's fine, because it's a long standing tradition in episodes like this. We just kinda go with it because it's fun. The episode is a confusing mess, which is kinda the point. But it's a fun confusing mess.
The episode sold the idea of the Mandela Effect, and presented it in a way that all of us can relate to, and which most of us have probably experienced. It also managed to explore the idea of fake news, and the idea that reality doesn't matter anymore. The truth is out there, but it's not as out there as the lies that people are willing to believe.
These concepts are timeless. They have mass appeal. They're something that the audience can connect with.
So, the problem with the episode comes in when the writer, Darin Morgan in this case, decides to make the story more about him. The weekly updates on where Mulder and company stand on the state of now-year-old politics is getting frustrating. I'm a big boy and I can handle some politics, but The X-Files was never a political commentary series (mostly because it was on the air in a time when criticizing the government would have meant criticizing someone that they liked and supported). While the show had occasional remarks about current events, they rarely tried to be petty about it. For the most part, the show could be escapist fun. It's much harder to enjoy the revival as escapist when they keep dragging real-world politics into it.
This isn't to say that they need to act as though politics don't exist. The Ted Cruz/JFK joke would have actually been a funny joke if they had delivered it cleanly. "This guy's father was responsible for his assassination" is a joke in that moment. "This idiot's father..." is a jab. One is in good humor, the other is petty and small.
The inauguration gag felt like a jab that didn't quite land, so it felt more like a shrugged off joke than a jab. That's fine. It was fun enough for that moment.
The bit at the end with the alien using the Trump quote just didn't work. It's like they couldn't think of anything else that the alien could say, so they went with that and hoped that people would chuckle out of reflex. The alien could have given numerous reasons for ditching the plan to explore humanity, from social media to reality TV, but the writer got lazy. Rather than come up with a joke, he came across as someone who didn't know politics but wanted to make a political joke. Which is weird, because the Cruz moment (failure that it was) gave me the opposite impression.
I don't know... I'm not all against political humor, but it's just been badly done on this show, and it's been needlessly done. I don't see the point in needlessly insulting the audience. It's so beneath this show, and always takes me out of the story. It always seems like those moments are more about the writers than the characters, and that's not good. (like in the last X-Files movie when they pan to the picture of Bush... it served Chris Carter, but not the story. At all)
In terms of acting, it just seemed like Duchovny and Anderson couldn't keep up with the comedy at times. Some of Duchovny's dialogue seemed disconnected, as though they had filmed his coverage at a different time than the other actor, so their back and forth was out of pace. It wasn't the whole episode, but moments in the episode.
But like I said, I thought the episode was pretty fun overall. I just don't know why the writers keep shooting themselves in the foot.
Interesting things to note:
For the second time this season, we're presented with the idea that this could be some other reality (universe, computer program, etc). We're presented with the notion that however we remember the show is right, and this whole thing could just be another universe that doesn't alienate the original series in any way.
The message seems directly aimed at this revival when Scully decides not to eat the dessert thing, wishing to remember it the way it was instead. Also when Mulder finds the episode of that TV show from his fond childhood memory and pops it in, only to discover that this isn't even an episode of the show he actually loved after all. It's a cheap copy of the show he loved.
We're also presented with a "conclusion" to the alien mythology that highlights how absurdly convoluted the whole thing has been, and the fact that we're being asked to kinda forget that the finale from last season ever happened.
To me, it seemed as if Morgan was taking some subtle jabs at Chris Carter and some of the weird decisions that have gone into making this revival. But that could just be in my head.
The episode definitely gave the audience a lot to chew on. I just wish that it had been a little tighter in the scripting.
I really enjoyed the episode. The quirky X-Files stuff tends to do it for me -- I think David does that humor especially well, and Gillian provides great contrast.
It’s weird — while I disagree with Informant that romance for Mulder and Scully was wrong wrong wrong and also wrong, I am completely in agreement about how it affected the show. There’s a strange irony to how THE X-FILES avoided the Mulder/Scully romance for so long and yet stumbled face-first into every potential problem.
It was *very* awkward for the show to initiate a romantic arc in FIGHT THE FUTURE but to follow up in Season 6 with teases that would gradually fade away from Season 6 after the first 10 episodes and become intermittent rather than regular. Mulder and Scully were being plugged into one romcom situation after another but never got together for no adequately established reason onscreen.
Season 7 was also awkward. Mulder and Scully kissed on New Year’s Eve, yet there was no follow-up or exploration of the significance. The non-commital approach to the romance led to “all things” having to construct a lifelong struggle for Scully to then resolve in the same episode in order to start an offscreen romance with Mulder.
The ambiguity made it really hard for me, as a viewer, to track where the characters were and they often didn’t feel like people as much as shop window dummies being prodded back and forth without their own will driving the story.
Mulder wasn’t in most of Season 8, but when he returned, there was again an awkward ambiguity because the show refused to confirm if he were the father of Scully’s child (or if he thought himself the father). It wasn’t clear who Mulder and Scully were to each other at this point. Season 8 also suffered from an ill-advised retcon where Carter declared that Mulder had been slowly dying from a terminal illness during the entirety of Season 7 which didn’t track with Duchovny’s performance or the Season 7 scripts. The plot was instantly dismissed upon Duchovny’s return as a Season 8 regular and Scully never confronted Mulder onscreen about hiding his illness from her. There was no clarity regarding the relationship.
It was so confusing that even after Season 8 ended with Scully holding her child and Mulder kissing her, fans were unsure as to William’s parentage and Carter had to confirm in interviews that Mulder was the father (although he now says he planned all along that the Smoking Man impregnated Scully).
Season 9, despite Mulder’s absence from all of it except the finale, had Mulder writing ridiculously overwrought emails to Scully that had none of Mulder’s charm, sarcasm or wit. I WANT TO BELIEVE has the highest level of awkwardness with the film unwilling to confirm whether or not Mulder and Scully are even a couple for almost half the movie and then having a halfhearted breakup that is then ignored by the rest of the film.
“My Struggle” re-establishes them as amicable exes and that seemed to end the confusion — only for Season 11 to now indicate tremendous discord. Chris Carter writes them as platonic partners who’ve had a few evenings; Glen Morgan writes them as a common-law power couple; Darin Morgan writes them as dating but distant (what boyfriend doesn’t let his girlfriend know he’s going off to the woods?). It’s just baffling. It's one thing for the duo to vary in how much conflict they have from week to week, but being a couple in one episode and platonic the next is awkward. Informant’s right to say they shouldn’t have done it at all if they were going to do it in such a half-witted, unconsidered, uncommitted fashion.
Setting aside all the political commentary, I don't think there's any doubt that Darin Morgan is skewering, mocking, criticizing and ultimately debunking Chris Carter's approach to the myth-arc whether it's Colonization, the Spartan Virus or William's true parentage. Carter has always permitted his writing staff to make fun of him with his blessing.
"Forehead Sweat" is composed entirely of people standing around talking in ominous foreshadowing, teasing grand payoffs that only come in the form of very sad anti-climaxes. Reggie Something offers a secret history behind the world we know only for his grand revelations to be exposed as a delusion. Dr. They is a silly figure of absurdity whose every statement underscores not a word should be taken seriously.
In addition, all the clues regarding Reggie's identity are contradictory and nonsensical: his ID appeared in the digitized X-Files records in "This" and Skinner recognizes him, he's being pursued by FBI agents and henchmen -- except given Scully's revelations, Reggie shouldn't be known to anyone save the orderlies at the Spotnitz Sanitarium.
Every time "Forehead Sweat" provides any sort of master narrative on disparate, disconnected and confusing events, the pieces fail to fit into a cohesive whole and Dr. They points out that there is so much trivia and information and theory that it's impossible to know what's true and what's not anymore.
This has always been the case with THE X-FILES specifically in terms of the alien conspiracy. The pieces have never fit together. Season 1 has the US government executing any and all alien life on sight for which Deep Throat expresses his deep regret -- except Season 2 indicates that aliens have infiltrated every level civilization and formed a shadow government.
Season 3 indicates that aliens are conducting rogue experiments in combining human and alien DNA and they're creating clone upon clone of Samantha, but Season 5 and FIGHT THE FUTURE declare it's actually the Syndicate trying to create an alien human hybrid so that the conspirators can... survive the alien invasion by... what?
The black oil it its first appearance is merely a 'medium' for an alien life force to transfer its essence into a human host, but in its subsequent appearance, it becomes a virus designed to turn a human into an alien, but then later on, the black oil is in fact an alien life form that possesses and controls humans. What?
The bees are being used to spread the virus to exterminate human victims except the plan as revealed in FIGHT THE FUTURE is to use humans as a slave race, so the bees are for... what again? Season 6 at last explains that the invasion plot is for the black oil aliens to invade Earth and use human bodies as incubators to repopulate the planet with their offspring... so the bees are... what? And the clones are for... what?
THE X-FILES was composed of all these little clues thrown out randomly in separate episodes with a later episode attempting to impose a master narrative upon all these disparate hints except half of them don't fit the overarching story declared afterwards.
If Reggie Something is a delusional mental patient, how could Dr. They be a real person whom Mulder oculd meet? If the endgame of the myth-arc was ultimately the Spartan Virus as a a human-devised means of population control, why was there an alien bounty hunter killing off alien-human conspirators? If the Cigarette Smoking Man plotted his apocalyptic scenario from the start, why was he presented as middle management within the Syndicate in Seasons 1 - 6?
"Forehead Sweat" is noting the sheer futility of trying to make sense of any of this incoherence by deliberately offering a mini-myth-arc with miniature hints that add up to a miniature level of myth-arc meandering that leaves us none the wiser.
I liked it, although at times, I despaired at how long we were spending in that parking lot.
The parking garage was funny, if only because the show has always spent a great deal of time in parking garages. And having Mulder's super secret meeting spot be the FBI garage was kinda funny. He's gotten that lazy in his old age.
Mulder ranting at the young FBI agents was hilarious to me on account of how Mulder is bragging about his conspiracy credentials when he spent Seasons 1 - 9 investigating a plot to invade Earth that turned out to be a hoax and he failed to ever expose the conspirators at all. It seems to me that aside from being gainfully employed by the FBI for a career spanning three decades (with six years as a federal fugitive and nine years doing nothing), Mulder has no meaningful achievements whatsoever, something Darin Morgan has always been keen to highlight.
One of my favourite X-FILES websites, www.EattheCorn.com, spent almost the entire length of the show documenting the myth-arc across the nine seasons, two films and then the Season 10 & 11 comic books. The webmaster was dismayed when Chris Carter declared the bulk of the myth-arc to be a hoax in “My Struggle,” attempted to reconcile alien colonization with the Spartan Virus in “My Struggle II” and gave up halfway into his review.
With “My Struggle III,” however, Eat the Corn seemed to squeal with delight at two lines of dialogue where Mr. Y declares that he was part of a Syndicate to bring about alien colonization but that it’s not happening due to environmental damage. The webmaster was later gushing on Facebook about how pleased he was that the Season 1 - 9 myth-arc was validated by these two lines. He then suggested a new approach to the myth-arc with Seasons 1 - 9 being genuine but the colonization aborted some time between 2000 and 2012 with the Spartan Virus being a new conspiracy that was devised colonization was cancelled.
I thought it was hilarious how passionate he became over Chris Carter throwing him a bone in this fashion when to me, it was very grudging and dismissive. And, to me, “Forehead Sweat” is a (gentle) way of mocking fans like the Eat the Corn webmaster who are trying to make sense of it all when the people pumping out this information have no concern for sense whatsover.
(But we’re all crazy passionate about silly things; I’m ridiculous with SLIDERS and I think this gentleman is my X-FILES counterpart.)
I really enjoyed this episode. I thought it was a ton of fun....particularly when Reggie was re-edited into the opening credits and clips from the show. I thought the actor that played Reggie had great comedic timing and played the part perfectly.
The scene with They and Mulder was played with this fun, surreal quality, and I think the whole Mandela/Mengele Effect was played wonderfully. It's strange that the best two episodes of the revival (IMO) have been, basically, straight-up comedies, but it's really worked for them when they've gone for it.
To me, Dr. They's remark about how we are all deluged in so much information we don't know whether or not to believe anything at all -- it's a comment on the mythology where between Colonization, Sveta, the Spartan Virus and William's parentage, the myth-arc has gone back and forth upon itself so many times that the viewer is completely lost as to what to believe. Dr. They also declares that in this post-conspiracy/post-cover-up era, Mulder search for truth has become irrelevant and Darin Morgan is by extension calling THE X-FILES redundant and out of date.
I'm not sure I agree with that. I think that the myth-arc is most definitely out of touch with modern concerns and Chris Carter's efforts to update it broke continuity and also presented some truly hamfisted and inane storytelling. THE X-FILES no longer works when it's about two FBI agents trying to break open a conspiracy that keeps morphing into a new form that's in stark contradiction to its previous incarnation with an alien invasion becoming a means of population control becoming something about supersoldier infants. Jesus.
But. I think that THE X-FILES is highly effective as a paranormal procedural about a skeptic and an investigator delving into mysteries of a supernatural or science fiction nature in a world that is more or less our own. That's a concept that continued to thrive long after THE X-FILES went off the air. It flourished with FRINGE, it was a success with SUPERNATURAL. Monsters of the week is a good format.
The fixation on the myth-arc has created a lot of bizarre characterization because the show seems uncomfortable with having the characters note that Colonization and the Spartan Virus are two contradictory conspiracies. Mulder confronted the Smoking Man in "My Struggle II" and didn't remark once upon how CGB Spender made him waste at least nine years investigating a phony invasion plot, he later visits Deep Throat's grave and doesn't wonder if Ronald tricked him into believing in Colonization or if he was pawn as well.
THE X-FILES still has value as a paranormal procedural, but the myth-arc is past its sell-by date. I take no pleasure in saying that, however. I understand that a lot of fans have a lot of fondness and devotion to it. I respect that -- I just don't share it.
They probably should have resolved the alien/Samantha arc around season 4, and introduced a new mythology to move forward. Say season 5 has Mulder digging into the disappearance of a remote viewer who worked with the government in the 1950s. This leads to the revelation that there have been more disappearances. This leads to Mulder realizing that he always seems to be one step behind in his pursuit of answers, which leads him to question whether the missing people are victims or some sort of new threat.
Or something. Basically, pivot toward a new conspiracy. It's not like the world is short on them. Or maybe have Scully take the lead this time.
Oh and BTW, I'm also a little tired of the Trump jabs. If Fox is so pissed off about Trump, why doesn't he spend his time trying to investigate him? He's already free, apparently, to do whatever he wants.
I get that Hollywood doesn't love Trump and wants to pat themselves on the back for speaking out to millions of people, but it really dates the show. He's going to be out of office before we know it, and these little comments are going to look so petty one day.
They are already pretty dated and petty, and they just aired! The problem with a lot of these hollow jabs is that they're based on "everybody knows..." politics. They're not based on facts or reality, just raw emotion, with vague references to news headlines that nobody bothered to read the story for. So now we have Mulder making comments about the President wanting to shut down the FBI (not something that I think is true), and we're at a point in the news cycle where shutting down the FBI doesn't sound like the craziest idea in the world... which again, will probably change before the story is settled.
And it was done in such a way where Mulder and Scully are wondering what they'll do if they lose their jobs... the jobs that they just got back, after spending 13 years without those jobs!
The need to jab at Trump has trumped (no pun intended) the need for their stories to make sense. We're expected to laugh because "everybody knows" that what they're saying is true, because it bashed Trump.
Well, even putting aside any part of whether or not it's true, it's just a weird thing to put in there. Because let's assume that Trump *doesn't* shut down the FBI, and let's assume that he either has one term or gets out before one term.
The jokes are gonna be weird and irrelevant in just a couple of years. If you tried to watch it in a few years, you'd wonder if you missed some segment of the X-Files where the President was involved. Because these jokes are really only relevant now.
I think "fake news" and media/government propaganda belongs on the X-Files because they're constantly dealing with misinformation. Having Mulder say something in one episode or two might be a clever little wink to the audience, but the show is doing it over and over again. And while they might have something to say now, Trump is a very temporary problem. It'd be like if every single episode of the Simpsons' first few seasons had a Dan Quayle joke. It's just weird.
Agreed. It'd be like if any show ever had an Obama joke... Ever.
Good thing that never happened.
I feel like you guys don't really get THE X-FILES although that could be said of pretty much everyone who has ever written for the show as they were encouraged to do STEPHEN KING's X-FILES/DARIN MORGAN's X-FILES/________'s X-FILES rather than aim for any sort of house style. Across 11 seasons and two films, however, the show has always been set *now*. Not in the past, not in the future, not in a parallel reality -- so the modern day references are how the show has been.
In the 90s, the anxieties were about cyberspace, tobacco, faith healers, the space program, AIDS, human trafficking, Indigenous peoples and government cover-ups. It's part of why the endgame of Colonization always seemed so unbelievable. THE X-FILES is set in our world and it will always have more continuity with reality than with its own episodes. 90s era X-FILES is dated by the fashions and the cell phones, 2015+ X-FILES is dated by its politics and that's every TV show that was ever made.
But it's pretty fair to dislike the jokes if you feel they don't work. That's valid criticism.
It's weird -- I liked Season 10 of THE X-FILES. It often wasn't *good,* but not for lack of trying, if that makes any sense. I had accepted somewhere around 1998 that THE X-FILES would only ever offer an anti-climax to its alien mythology. I enjoyed how "My Struggle" didn't recapture the plot, but it recaptured the atmosphere: brooding conversations and ambiguity and mystery. I enjoyed how "My Struggle" dismissed the old conspiracy and declared it a smokescreen for a new one more in tune with 21st century threats.
When Mulder says that Colonization was him "being led by my nose through a dark alley to a dead end," it didn't fit the show's continuity -- but it had a ring of real-world truth about how the myth-arc was never going anywhere. I liked that and I liked how how "My Struggle II" brought about a version of Colonization in a human-driven, viral form suited to the procedural paranoia of THE X-FILES.
But then Season 11 came and it wimped out terribly. Rather than let the conclusion of "My Struggle II" stand (Colonization came, Scully found a cure) and use the time gap to wrap up the cliffhanger (say the cure was distributed between Season 10 and Season 11 and move on, focus on monsters of the week and characterization), Chris Carter again tried to artificially extend a plot that's completely out of content with William's parentage.
Now I'm rewatching Season 10 and... the flaws that seemed excusable in the name of wrapping up THE X-FILES' storyline years too late are no longer excusable because there's been no wrap up.
I loved seeing Stuart Margolin on screen once again, as a big Rockford Files fan! The Trump jokes are dumb, but I think they do them because DJT and many of this followers spout all kinds of conspiracies. Trump promised to released docs from JFK and UFO's, too, which were duds.
I think it'd be fine if Mulder made a sarcastic comment or whatever, but they just keep hammering it, and it's frustrating. Mostly because they aren't clever comments, they're just actively insulting their audience in petty ways. I make Trump jokes all the time, so I'm not really defensive of him. It's just done really poorly. I think the original series is still watchable because while it is very dated in some ways, they didn't go out of their way to date it over and over again in every episode.
It just comes down to bad decision-making in general.
This week's episode was weak. It wasn't as horrible as the first two of the season, but it was incredibly weak. It was like they took a typical X-File monster of the week story and tried to turn it into a story about William, and the final product was neither one of those things. It didn't have the weight or care of an episode about William should have, even with the weird scene with Scully crying over his body. They didn't spend enough time getting to the "this is William" side of the story, and the fact that whole thing just came to them, rather than them going to it, made it feel false.
Had they played the angle of Scully finding the file on Mulder's desk, and her suspecting/projecting a William angle over their course of the investigation, the episode could have been really interesting. It didn't even need to be the real William. In fact, it probably shouldn't have been, because turning him into this big X-File creature with super powers prevents him from being an active part of the story in any real way.
Trying to mash these stories together deprived the story of any natural flow. It just didn't work for me.
On another note, what's with Gillian Anderson's voice? I watch her on The Fall and American Gods, and she sounds perfectly normal. However, on The X-Files, she sounds like she's spent the last 15 years living with the Cigarette Smoking Man.
I wonder if the Vancouver air just doesn't agree with her throat.
I feel like Informant's issue with this week's episode of THE X-FILES is that it's an episode of THE X-FILES and THE X-FILES isn't for everyone. Even I don't really like it; I don't enjoy it as much as I study it. If I want a show with strong continuity, ongoing character progression and logical links to previously established concepts that avoids an anthology approach, I'd watch FRINGE. (I might do that anyway.)
THE X-FILES is fundamentally about absence, loss and the search for that which is missing. The Pilot was centered around missing time. Writer/directors Glen Morgan and James Wong left THE X-FILES after Season 4, came back for Season 10, watched Seasons 5 - 9 and declared that William could under no circumstances be brushed off as easily as Season 9 seemed to suggest. So, James Wong presents "Ghouli" in which Mulder and Scully search for their missing son and are met with absence and loss at every turn. By the time they find William, he's a corpse and his story is over. Scully gets her worst nightmare to come true: sending William away only made him troubled and damaged and monstrous. And when she gets her reunion with William, she only finds out about it after the fact. That's THE X-FILES.
THE X-FILES is also very focused on ambiguity. William has two girlfriends; is it because he's a lying, cheating player or is he polyamorous but struggling to understand his sexual identity? William induces his two girlfriends to attack each other; does he truly have no regard for human life or was he trying to master his powers and racing the clock against the Spartan Virus?
There's also tremendous ambivalence with regards to continuity. In Season 9, Spender injected William with magnetite that should have negated his powers; this is ignored. Season 9 also established that Scully's abduction had tampered with her physiology and that William would benefit from alien DNA -- but Season 11 now declares that it wasn't about aliens but instead supersoldiers as part of Project Crossroads, an awkward retcon that goes undiscussed and James Wong carefully scripts the story to acknowledge the myth-arc but sail right past the discrepancy.
Deliberate anti-climaxes, cautious ambiguity, unclear continuity -- that's THE X-FILES. For better or for worse. (Informant could be right to say it's worse.)
No, I'm an X-Files fan. I started watching the show when the first episode aired, and I have watched it straight through today. Ice rewstched the series. I know the series. I get the series. I know what it's like when it's good, and I know what it's like when it's not. Sorry, but if you watch the series all the way through (including the rather iffy last couple seasons of the original run) and go right I to this revival, it just doesn't feel like it fits (for the most part). "Ghouli" is a halfway good stand-alone episode and a halfway good mythology episode, but ultimately succeeds at being neither. And the lack of proper story construction is perfectly evident in the scene in Mulder's office. The case is introduced as both a normal X-File and as a supernatural message to Scully, when only one of those was needed (probably the supernatural element, because it would echo Scully's previous discovery of her daughter)
A fun experiment might be to go back and watch the introduction of Emily in season 5.
I think Season 8 is one of the show's best years. Season 9 was bad.
There's another continuity peculiarity -- William was adopted by Wyoming farmers in Season 9. But in Season 11, they're now a wealthy Virginia family. Ah, continuity. Doesn't exist on this show.
I'm torn. I agree that season 9 was pretty bad, but I also like the Doggett and Reyes characters and don't like it when people lump them in with the show's downfall. Honestly, I think the show lost a lot of it's vibe when it moved to California. They still had good episodes, but it just felt wrong to go from gray and rainy, to bright and sunny.
Season 9 had an episode called "4D", which featured parallel worlds, and it was done in an interesting way. I'd be interested in seeing an episode where the Mulder and Scully from the revival meet their alternates, from a world where they are 100% platonic. I just want to see the look on that Scully's face.
Season 8 was very strong as THE X-FILES committed fully to serialization, something it had declined to engage in despite being the first show to attempt an ongoing mythology over multiple episodes and seasons. Season 9 suffered badly because Mulder was inexplicably made the center of the show despite the actor refusing to return and there was also a lot of awkward scripting to include Scully in stories because they had the actress on contract but didn't have anything for her to do.
I don't think we need anymore standalones where William is represented through a surrogate (Christian in I WANT TO BELIEVE, the genetically altered children in "Founders Mutation," the trash man monster in "Home Again"). It was time for William to step back into the story and James Wong made it happen albeit in that classic X-FILES fashion of being elusive and always out of reach, much like Samantha and the truth behind the conspiracy.
It's fine for William to be brought back into the picture. I just think that the execution of that story was poor. It felt like a generic X-Files script, with scenes added to put William in there, but without properly framing that side of the story.
Personally, I would have preferred William join the cast from this episode onwards. But I've come to accept that the show has a house format (as opposed to style) that isn't ever going to change. It would bother me if not for SUPERNATURAL and FRINGE having pursued the ongoing development that TXF just won't ever do.
Yeah. I guess it is what it is. As a whole, I can't really view this revival as part of the larger X-Files series. Some of the episodes, sure, but not all of them. So at best, maybe it's a glimpse into the X-Files multiverse where different episodes take place in canon and some don't, leaving it up to the viewer to decide which is which.
While I'm watching the show this year, I have some family members who have watched everything up to this point, but just couldn't do it anymore. So now I'm going to just tell them which ones are worth their time and which aren't.
It’s funny how THE X-FILES comic books, the SEASON 10 - 11 series, were originally billed as a canonical conitnuation of the series. Chris Carter, who did little more than read the comic book scripts, had his name put on the covers. The publisher understood that Carter’s name at the top of the credits lent the comics a credibility among fans that was instantly lost the second THE X-FILES was announced as returning to TV.
SEASON 11 ends with Mulder confronting an alien ship that warps spacetime in order to traverse great distances. A rip in reality shows glimpses of parallel universes — one of which shows Mulder and Scully in their “My Struggle” outfits: Mulder with his sunglasses and green jacket, Scully with her parted down the center hair. The implication was that SEASONS 10 - 11 were in a parallel universe to the Revival — except that given the Revival’s liberties with the myth-arc and continuity, the actual effect upon readers (or at least me) was that the comics were canon and it was the Revival that was set in a parallel universe to the original TV show.
The televised Season 11 seems determined to pepper every episode with the theme of alternate realities whether they are visions (“My Struggle III”), computer simulations (“This”), perceptions through multiple personalities (“Plus One”), false memories (“Forehead Sweat”) and telepathic illusions (“Ghouli”).
In terms of the downfall of THE X-FILES as a cultural force — this is strictly my opinion, but Seasons 2 - 5 were the height of the show in terms of ratings. After the movie, the ratings started to fall. My suspicion is that the Mulder/Scully case-of-the-week format with occasional myth-arc episodes was effective for five years. After five seasons, however, the audience craved a new take. FIGHT THE FUTURE suggested that there would indeed be a new emphasis on the Mulder-Scully relationship and the myth-arc where Seasons 1 - 5 hadn’t really done character arcs or developed the myth-arc all that much.
Season 6, however, didn’t deliver. There was a lot of teasing for both the Mulder-Scully relationship and the myth-arc, but there was nothing concerete. The romcom episodes came to an end without any real changes. The “Two Fathers”/One Son” revealed the mythology and killed off the Syndicate, but the aliens were still coming and the Smoking Man carried on his plotting, so nothing had really changed. Speculatively, I wonder if “Two Fathers”/“One Son” made it clear that both the relationship and the myth-arc would only ever be teases and doubletalk and the audience gave up.
Later shows like HOUSE and BUFFY were careful: each season had a year-long myth-arc that would be resolved by the season’s end. Each year also had some revisions to the format. As David Shore (HOUSE) would remark, you want to be making little changes to the show before the audience starts asking for them as opposed to after they’ve gotten bored — and you maybe want to commit to the changes wholeheartedly instead of in the wishy-washy fashion THE X-FILES did. That said, Informant would not agree with commiting fully and totally to a Mulder-Scully romance...
Personally, I would have had FIGHT THE FUTURE be the climactic, widescreen action conclusion to the alien invasion arc — and it ends with the X-Files Division burned to the ground and Mulder and Scully banned from the FBI premises for life. Season 6 ends with Mulder working at a tabloid and Scully working at a blood bank — until the Lone Gunmen call. Frohike won the lottery. Frohike wants to expand the Lone Gunmen into a national enterprise of exploring paranormal events — and he wants to re-name the magazine THE X-FILES and he wants Mulder and Scully to be his lead investigators. Season 6 starts a more ensemble approach where it’s now Mulder, Scully, Langley, Frohike, Byers and then it widens to include Jeffrey Spender, Diana Fowley and then it turns out that Frohike didn’t actually win the lottery, but the Smoking Man staged it...
With Season 7, I would have THE X-FILES go global with Mulder and Scully mentoring trainees as a new generation of X-Files investigators. With Season 8, Mulder goes missing and we focus on Scully and the trainees. With Season 9, Gillian Anderson is at last released from her contract and the trainees take center stage, shepherded by FBI agents Reyes and Doggett who have been made liaisons as the FBI consult with the X-Files Magazine.
TV works best when the concept evolves a bit each year. THE X-FILES refused to grow. It’s still refusing to grow.
So glad to see Chris Carter fighting back on the calls to close out the series just because Gillian is done
http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/the-x-file … -anderson/
I'm not sure how FOX will feel though. That's the irony here. The ratings have been just above average and this show isn't cheap.
I sometimes think THE X-FILES might have been better as a low-rated, low-budgeted cult series that muddled along, always drawing in slightly more ad revenue than it cost to actually make it, supported by a legion of diehard fans and largely ignored by the general public. Like FRINGE! Like SUPERNATURAL! Except the fate of cult shows in the 90s was, well, pretty much what we saw with SLIDERS: a slow death by a thousand cuts with endless retooling and recasting until the fanbase was reduced to six people and the ending to the series was scripted by the fanbase's village mental patient (twice over).
That's true, in the 90s there wasn't so much room for niche stuff. At least compared to now. But yea, Supernatural would be a good model. Though hard to complain with 11 seasons. And hopefully more. That said, it seems like a lot of the public has dropped off of X Files for whatever season. Season 10 just didn't appeal to them and I guess the premiere episode this year didn't help. It's not doing bad for a show, but for what it is, not impressive.
Keep in mind, the streaming option is becoming more and more popular all the time. The normal ratings hardly seem relevant anymore. (and I say this as someone who fully understands why the ratings should drop like a rock)
Keep in mind, the streaming option is becoming more and more popular all the time. The normal ratings hardly seem relevant anymore. (and I say this as someone who fully understands why the ratings should drop like a rock)
Oh yea, I fully understand that. I'm really just looking at it compared to the new norm. That said, I'm sure the DVR is pretty decent for the show. Here's the live ratings:
Not bad this week. A standard X-File, with an interesting plot. Leaning a little much on the trope of the psycho US army dude in Vietnam, but adding a government conspiracy to explain it. The episode was shot well, and the characters were written well enough, for the most part. So yeah, not bad.
Question, going back to the politics of this season: these episodes take place shortly after My Struggle II, right? So we'd be in maybe April of 2016 by now? So there is no President Trump yet. I guess they're fudging the dates so they don't end up making a period piece when all is said and done, but this is a great reason why they shouldn't be doing political commentary.
Question, going back to the politics of this season: these episodes take place shortly after My Struggle II, right? So we'd be in maybe April of 2016 by now? So there is no President Trump yet. I guess they're fudging the dates so they don't end up making a period piece when all is said and done, but this is a great reason why they shouldn't be doing political commentary.
Mr. Robot did a similar thing. Their show definitely takes place in 2016, but they're making one of the plotlines about political maneuvering to get a guy like Trump in the White House. Then there's one scene where a big time player is watching a Trump rally or speech.
I get that Hollywood hates him, and they feel like they're doing their form of protest. But I don't really see the point of hitting us so hard with it. I don't like him either, but I don't bring it up all the time at my work.
Yeah, it's selfish writing, when the writer becomes more important than the characters or stories. (Which is not the same thing as setting out to tell a political or personal story in the first place)
Similarly, with the Arrowverse, we've seen them make references to Trump, but they've clearly established their own fictional presidents, so it makes no sense.
"Kitten" seems to think THE X-FILES is a more modern series than it's been. If Skinner had featured prominently in Season 11 doing questionable things for the first five episodes, "Kitten" would have been a midpoint in his arc where Mulder and Scully realize that while they don't know what Skinner's doing with the Smoking Man, they can trust it's for their benefit.
But what's actually happened: Mulder and Scully stopped trusting Skinner in "My Struggle III" for vague reasons (he smelled like smoke), but have continued to use him as a plot and expository device for brief guest-roles with no real progress or development. "Kitten" then has Skinner explain his attitude to authority -- but Mulder and Scully inexplicably don't demand an explanation as to his recent collaboration with CGB Spender.
It's awkward. The best way to handle this plot and keep THE X-FILES' preferred standalone concept: Mulder should never have been suspicious of Skinner. Skinner's partnership with Spender should have been known to the audience but not Mulder -- and then this episode could serve as a clarification of Skinner's loyalties to the audience.
As aired, this conflict demands ongoing development. What we're getting instead is the characters alluding to Skinner's allegiances, then ignoring it. It doesn't affect the story and its presence is therefore deeply distracting.
A modern series would have had Skinner and the Smoking Man working together in an ongoing arc (like Castiel and Crowley did on SUPERNATURAL) and then built to a confrontation where Mulder and Scully find out (like where Sam, Dean and Bobby set a trap for Castiel to expose him) and either sever ties or choose to trust him. Instead, the arc has just clumsily meandered in a half-alive state; we're told that Skinner may be compromised, but he's wheeled out to give Mulder and Scully information in "This," for a joke in "Forehead" and for more exposition in "Ghouli."
Due to the standalone format, "Kitten" isn't permitted to make any advancement in Skinner's arc. It just reiterates that Skinner was in Vietnam and learned not to trust authority. We already got this information in 1996; "Kitten" reveals absolutely nothing new about Skinner, lends no insight whatsoever and the most critical aspect of Skinner's life -- his role with the Smoking Man -- isn't addressed.
The reappearance of FBI Deputy Director Alvin Kersh is another awkward note of continuity. His presence raises so many unanswered questions. He was consistently sabotaging Mulder and Scully in Seasons 6 - 9, but then in the Season 9 finale, he helped Mulder escape from jail. Did Kersh believe in Colonization? Or was he led to believe that Mulder and Scully were a disciplinary issue? Was he working for the Syndicate or was he making the best choices he could when managing Mulder, a talented agent who was considered insane? Was he genuinely hostile towards Mulder, Scully and Doggett or was it an act? He shows up in "Kitten" and all that's expressed is that he finds Mulder and Scully annoying and considers them the reason Skinner's career at the FBI stalled.
This raises some serious questions that "Kitten" in its standalone format can't address. Why were the X-Files reopened? "My Struggle" didn't address it, simply having Skinner text Mulder and Scully to say, "Situation critical, need to see you ASAP" and the following week had Mulder and Scully back in the office. If Kersh thinks so poorly of Mulder and Scully, why did he permit them to be reinstated to the FBI? Would it really have been difficult for Kersh (who outranks Skinner) to refuse to see two former federal fugitives cleared for duty a good 15 years since they quit and were fired? Why would Kersh, who came to Mulder's side by the end of Season 9, derisively call Mulder's truth "imaginary"?
THE X-FILES is just not on the ball with characterization. And in fact, Mitch Pileggi did an interview where he described how the "My Struggle III" script had Mulder smelling smoke on Skinner and throwing a punch leading to an intense fight scene. But Duchovny and Pileggi protested: their characters had been friends for two decades and Carter, rather than rewrite the scene, toned it down to the silly shoving between the two that aired. It's a bad situation when the creator of the show writes a fight scene between two friends for no good reason whatsoever.
THE X-FILES has all of its writers working separately, the showrunner is not overseeing ongoing progression and episode-to-episode consistency and "Kitten" suffers like no other episode aired this year due to these issues.
I agree with all of that, but didn't they have a lot of those issues with the Skinner character throughout the series?
It's weird that the show isn't pretending that Mulder and Scully have been working for the FBI for all of these years, but they're still acting as though they have been. They wonder what they'll do if they lose their jobs. They are blamed for Skinner's career going nowhere for all these years. It's strange.